President D'Souza Defends the Sanctity of Life
In debate with atheist, D'Souza ably discussed the dignity inherent to life
NEW YORK, March 30, 2011—President Dinesh D’Souza debated minister-turned-atheist Dan Barker at the Cleveland Right to Life’s annual symposium on pro-life issues on March 12. The debate followed the gala dinner and served as the keynote address for the second day of the conference.
The pair met to debate God, morality, and human dignity. Due to the nature of the symposium, the debate was framed in terms of the morality of abortion.
Barker attempted to make the argument that morality is simply a matter of weighing the harm of two competing decisions and then choosing the least harmful option. “The path that results in the least amount of harm is the path that we should pick,” he said. For a woman pregnant with a child that she knows she will not be able to support, he contended, this principle of least harm would support her decision to have an abortion.
D’Souza countered Barker by saying that his argument revealed a disturbing trend in the West. “Until quite recently,” he said, “there was a shared belief in American society in a universal, external moral code. A moral code that is not part of us—it is external to us, and makes claims on us. It is our job to live up to the dictates of this moral code.” For Christians, this code comes from the Bible, which contains many references to the sanctity of life, the principle which motivates the pro-life crowd.
Barker in turn claimed the Scriptures do not contain any such commands about abortion, and that since Jesus never said anything about abortions, Christians today should not either. D’Souza ably responded that Barker viewed the Bible too literally, even if the word “abortion” is never used.
“Remember,” D’Souza said, “even the letters of Paul were written to specific communities. We have to apply them in a very different context. Dan has lost his whole sense of the historicity of the Bible: that it was written to different groups of people in different times.” The answers to modern-day predicaments need to be found through the truths of the Scriptures. If the literal answer is not found in the words of Jesus, Paul or others, then we attempt to derive the answer from the principles they taught.
In his concluding remarks, D’Souza wanted to explore why humans are inherently equal. His answer: “Because we were created that way. It was the act of creation, the act of being subordinate to a higher power, the act of being subject to an external moral reality—that is what confers human dignity.”
Because of this, he said, our duty as Christians is “not only to protect life, but also [to protect] the infrastructure of morality and transcendence that gives life its value.”
Attendees at the event were absolutely thrilled with the debate. Teresa Tomeo, a radio broadcaster and the moderator for the debate, said she appreciated how D’Souza gave an argument with intellectual backing. “He talked about history, where the Bible came from, and how long it took,” she said. “We had Christianity long before we had the Bible. And it seemed like for someone who should have known Christianity as an evangelical pastor, [Barker] had no idea that the Bible wasn’t around for several hundred years and that it took several councils to form the canon of Scripture.”
President D’Souza speaks around the country on a range of issues relating to God, limited government, and free enterprise. Click here to see some of his upcoming engagements.
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